With increasing van usage including everything from portable shops, mobile mechanics, roadside assistance, valets and portable kitchens, vans are more likely to be modified than any other vehicle. Even couriers often add shelving, racks or dividers to improve the efficiency and safety of their deliveries.
While most van modifications in the motor trade are for business rather than cosmetic reasons, you will need to declare any changes you have made when looking to renew your motor trade insurance or van insurance policy. If the changes are far-reaching, you might want to investigate a modified van policy to make sure you are covered for all eventualities.
Failing to declare any modifications when taking out a policy, or when making updates, can mean you won’t be adequately insured, and it could even invalidate your policy.
What is Classed as a Van Modification?
Everything that changes the value and power of your van can be classed as a modification, which could include making interior alterations, adding extra seats, installing lifting equipment or adding a bathroom. Modifications more commonly found on cars, including alloy wheels and supercharged engines, can also be found on vans.
Here’s a list of some modifications you’ll need to declare to your insurer either when applying for a new policy or if you modify your van midway through your annual cover. If you have bought a second-hand van, you need to tell your insurer about previous modifications that were installed prior to you owning the van.
- Internal/external racks and storage
- Extra or removed seats and windows
- Beds or bathrooms
- Refrigeration or permanent catering equipment
- Spoilers, body kits, vinyl wraps and tinted windows
- Upgraded alloys and tyres
- Engine chip & remapping
- Exhaust alternation or lowering suspension
- Lifting equipment
- Jet washing equipment
- Making power alterations or adding different power supplies
- Wheelchair lifts
- New sound system
Will Modifications Raise the Cost of My Van Insurance?
It depends on the modification. In general, if the modifications increase risk then it is likely that your insurance premium will rise. Risks can include the increased likelihood of your vehicle being stolen or involved in an accident, together with the resulting cost of repairing or replacing your van. Modifications can also drive up the overall value, so insurers need to be able to accommodate this in the policy.
If you are adding expensive catering equipment to your van, then you could be more prone to thieves and this will need to be addressed in your policy. Insurance brokers will also consider the installation of deterrents such as immobilisers, as well as highly secure overnight storage. Accidents will be increasingly likely if you have upgraded to a powerful engine or removed windows, so expect to pay a higher premium with these modifications.
Other modifications will cause very little change to your insurance policy including minor changes such as tinted windows (make sure they are within the legal limits), a couple of extra seats or specialist disability equipment such as wheelchair lifts.
Do I Need to Declare Modifications Mid Policy?
Put simply, if your vehicle no longer matches the policy, any claims you need to make could be rejected by your insurer. Keeping your insurer updated means they can adjust your premiums if necessary, rather than you having to start a whole new policy.
If you don’t keep your insurer informed, your entire policy could become invalidated leaving you severely out of pocket for not just damage caused to your van, but to other’s people’s vehicles or property. In addition, you may find it very expensive to try and get new insurance elsewhere.
Modifications to Reduce Your Premium
There are, of course, certain modifications you can do to help reduce your premiums or prevent them being raised in the event of installing expensive equipment.
By fitting heavy-duty locks, a tracker, immobiliser or van alarm, you will reduce deter thieves. Parking in a secure, well-lit place overnight, preferably with CCTV, will also help to offset some of the modification risks.
Parking sensors can help to reduce accidents, as can using telematics to track your driving skills, avoid congested areas and keep a check on speeding.